Abel Sanchez is widely regarded as one of the best trainers in all of boxing, as he has an impressive stable of fighters and many world champions. He is best known for his work with IBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, though he recently has taken Murat Gassiev to a second world title belt at cruiserweight. This year, Sanchez has a chance to bring both fighters to a rare feat, that being the undisputed champion in their weight classes.
In part 1 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio interview with Abel Sanchez, I discuss with him Murat Gassiev’s win from this past weekend against Yunier Dorticos. I talk about Gassiev’s performance and future going forward. Abel also talks about the upcoming rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, speaking on the pre-fight talk from Canelo and what approach he expects to face from him in the rematch. Here is what Abel Sanchez had to say.
Jenna J: Murat Gassiev picked up another title belt this past weekend against Yunier Dorticos. Can you talk a little about his performance?
Abel Sanchez: He did very well. We were fighting a very formidable opponent with 22 wins and 21 knockouts who had a great Cuban background. We knew we had a hard fight on our hands and we had to be smart. Murat followed the gameplan to a tee, we were able to stop him in the 12th. It was a very difficult fight for both guys but I think both guys are at the top of the cruiserweight division. Even Dorticos losing, I think he’s still at the top of the cruiserweight division.
Jenna J: Can you describe what you were going through in the final rounds knowing it was a close fight?
Abel Sanchez: Our plan was to allow him to blow a little steam off at the beginning, kind of reminiscent of the Lemieux-Golovkin fight. Our plan was to let Dorticos tire himself out. I had seen a tape of him fighting Miranda and Kalenga, so I knew that in the middle of the fight his arms were going to get heavy and he was going to not snap his punches as well as he did in the beginning of the fight.
Sure enough in the 5th or 6th round, I said to my assistant in the corner, “Ben, do you see his arms now starting to slow down? He’s pushing his punches now, it’s time to step up the heat here.” Little by little Murat started wearing him down. That was the plan from the beginning, we weren’t going to go out to do a fire fight, we were going out to be smart and allow the fight to progress on our terms.
Jenna J: In May, Gassiev will fight Usyk for the undisputed cruiserweight championship of the world. How do you feel that fight is going to go?
Abel Sanchez: Usyk is a very talented fighter, he’s a gold medalist. Even though he hasn’t had many professional fights, he still is an international top fighter. He is by far the toughest opponent that he will ever have faced, and of course the same goes for Usyk.
It will be a different fight than the Dorticos fight because I think Usyk will try to be more elusive. It won’t be a bang ’em fight like we just had but I think it’s going to be an interesting fight because both guys are going to have to change whatever they did in their prior fight because their opponents are completely different.
For Usyk, he’s never had anyone come at him like that for twelve rounds, and for Gassiev, I don’t think he’s ever faced a southpaw as slick as Usyk, even in the amateurs. Whoever makes the best adjustment is going to win the fight.
Jenna J: It was recently announced that Gennady Golovkin will have a rematch with Canelo Alvarez. How excited are you that the rematch is coming together?
Abel Sanchez: I’m excited because it’s a fight that boxing needs. After the controversial end of the last fight, I think the public wants to see this fight again. The public is demanding this fight and finally Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo, Golovkin and Tom Loeffler were able to come to terms. Now that they have come to terms, I think it’s an anticipated fight.
I don’t think it’s a fight that I think we have to promote a lot, we don’t have to go on a world tour, it’s been promoted since the first one. I think Canelo can make it a more interesting fight by doing what he says he’s going to do and tries to knock out Golovkin. If he runs again, it’s not going to be a fan pleasing fight but everything has to do what’s best for them. We expect Canelo to do the same thing he did before. If he doesn’t, then I think we’re going to be treated to probably another fight of the year candidate.
Jenna J: Abel, you just said that you expect Canelo to do what he did before in the last fight. Being that Alvarez got a draw fighting that way, is there any reason for him to change his game plan up?
Abel Sanchez: First of all I don’t think it was that close. I think a lot of people had it 8-4, but he still lost. Golovkin can do the same thing he did before and Canelo can do the same thing, and the fight will be the same as the first one. I think it’s on Canelo because of all the smack he’s talking.
Canelo did the same thing the first time, he said he was going to go out and knock Golovkin out in the tenth round, and so did Hopkins and De La Hoya, it didn’t happen and all they did was talk. They are doing the same thing again, so Canelo is putting the pressure on himself.
All Golovkin has to do is what he did before and he wins the fight again. If Canelo stands in front of him, we’re going to see a different fight, we’re going to see a fight that the public is expecting, a classic fight.